Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

China: Protest in Taiwan criticized as democratic violence

Mainland China envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) flied back to Beijing 7, Nov after his 4-day “ice-breaking” visit to Taiwan.

As the chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), Chen, led the highest-ranked official delegation ever from mainland to Taiwan, to negotiate for new deals that set down agreements on direct shipping and flights, mail services and food safety. It's said to be a historic leap on cross-strait tie.

In spite that Chen allegedly came to for the peaceful and constructive purpose that is to “enhance the economic cooperation across the strait”, people sided with the “one China, one Taiwan” principle viewed it more than abhorrent. Even though as many as 20000 police were dispatched to guard the visitors, swarms of Taiwanese numbered by 100,000, most of them mobilized by the present out-party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), still flowed to wherever Chen showed up to brandish their topmost hostility. It goes without saying to be a straightforward political demonstration to mainland that “you are not welcomed, F**K off!”

But the firepower is not only directed at the visitor. The Taiwan president Ma Yingjiu, has been railed against in these days for the crackdown of protests, speech freedom black-out, and the downgrading of Taiwan's sovereignty.

During the “Action of Seige” designed by DPP to trap the envoy Chen in the hotel, city police responded, unfortunately, in a way to catalyze it into a violent clash. On 4, Nov, when Lian-zhan, the Honor President of KMT was dining Chen at Yuanshan hotel, the alerted police guarding outside forced a shop across the street to shut down the “Song of Taiwan” being played aloud. People exhibiting Taiwan's national flag and emblem were dispersed and blocked from the hotel, and speeches like “Taiwan doesn't belong to China” were muzzled.

The bloody clash finally broke out at the night when the present KMT president Guo-Boxiong dined Chen on another hotel. The police were confronted by a group of thousands of agitated people, including a few aldermen. Stones and clubs were hurled, barricades were pulled down, and gasoline bombs were fired. More than one hundred police were injured, many of them sent to hospital, while the opposing party suffered as well, scores of the protesters injured or arrested. Chen is thereby trapped in the hotel for 8 hours until midnight, a quite embarrassing situation to the host. The Democratic Progressive Party played a major role in the incident by a fanfare mobilization.

In the days following, Taiwan witnessed a mutual accusation. The president of Republic of China, Ma-yinjiu, criticized DDP of irresponsible ,who rebutted that they were just calling for a protest against the government's crackdown upon speech freedom.

Taiwan bloggers gave enthusiastic responses. A GV post by Taiwan author I-FAN shows the native bloggers’ anger with the way police restrained people's legitimate right to protest. Some of them moaned the value of democracy is lost.

Meanwhile, a broadcast is on air to record a sit-in of college students and scholars in Taipei, against the resurgence of marshal law and violent authority in Taiwan.

But the other side of voices is not out of its momentum.

Blogger Xinhua posted his opinion on Duowei blog, analyzing the motive behind DDP's action


DDP tried to seize the chance of the envoy's visit to rid of its hot potato at hand, that is, the corruption accusation of the its former president Chen Shuibian, and its extremely low popularity. It launched the protester to street to bring back group conflict on the island, and to restore its slumping state.


The street riot and DDP's resort to violence is seen internationally as a shame of democracy, also widely lashed out by the public opinions in Taiwan…. Some college students even choose to sit in against the police's overuse of violence rather than question the street violence. Their naive understanding of democracy is evident.


Democracy comprises all the peace, understanding, harmony and tolerance, compromise, communication, but none of street fight, mob, letting alone violence. So, democracy is above all a quality of discipline and tolerance. Street fight gives birth to irrational conflict and impulses.
Without constraint, excessive action will be made when appeal is not satisfied, resulting in a tumultuous society.


There is not democracy without law. You can assemble, parade, express, but everything should certainly bein the framework of law, applied, and done along certain route. No harm to public order, no harm to traffic, and no harm to others, and the social safety.

He conclude that, there is not a slight of democracy in DPP's actions.

On youtube, a comment was made following the footage of the clash:

hastobright :


卻破壞法治 欺負善良百姓的流氓

The democracy in Taiwan has been put to the extent of people's abuse of right.
Those non-mob voters should stand out not to withstand such hooligans any more.

Now a critical question: is Taiwan over-democratic? Is citizen disobedience allowed to such an extent of violence?

Whatever clash is left on the island, CPC this time made itself a big gain. It wins popular support, embarrasses the Taiwan authority so that it can further pressure it near the mainland, and signs treaties with practical meaning. That might be why the chief of State Office of Taiwan, Wangyi, praised the home-coming Chen Yunlin: You don't disappoint your mission.


  • Thanks Bob for this post.

  • Stephan Larose

    I highly, highly doubt that the DPP was somehow able to control the crowd and coordinate its movements. Xinhua’s assertion that people have limited rights to protest “within the framework of law” demonstrates a typical, authoritarian response to democracy, IE, the Olympic “protest zones.” There are protest zones, but the “law” says nobody can protest. If a law is immoral, then it is no law at all. Violence and “hooliganism” (what an atrocious word) can be avoided only there is more democracy. There is an extremely large demographic in Taiwan that do not want Taiwan to become subject to Chinese rule, they deserve a place at the negotiating table as a stakeholder. Give dissenting parties a seat at the table and you avoid violence. Send out 100,000 police to take away their right to hold flags, sing the national anthem, and voice dissent, and you will cause violence. That’s the response of a police state clawing back civil rights. It’s a provocation, and of course the public will respond. That’s not news, that’s democracy 101. Get a clue Bob.

  • Steven Chiang

    now u guys still dont see why Taiwanese people are striking. Taiwan is acttually being sold to China, the treaties are bringing Taiwan too close to China and the KMT part are actually selling Taiwan. This is crap for over 60% of Taiwan and they are pissed. If Taiwan acctually becomes China, u’ll see lots of people commit suicide or u’ll see riots and hell will break loose in Taiwan. There will be a civil war before Taiwan becomes part of China. So great to see u guys want that to happen. People are angry trust me, the DPP are the only party that acctually cares about these people. People do you think calling them violent will stop them? No! they will continue to fight for their countries freedom, and they all might as well fight to there deaths. Once China owns Taiwan, all is dead. BTW, Whats so important about Taiwan to China that China cant just let Taiwan be a free country? Also, screw China and KMT.

  • Are Taiwanese Chinese people? A major diverge occurs because we answer this question conversely. I-FAN explain in this way: many Taiwanese do not agree with \we are all Chinese.\ From genetic analysis, many Taiwanese are in a closer relationship with people in the Southeast Asia than Chinese. Mainland Chinese concern more about tightly historical cross trait relations, such as Koxinga and Imperial Chinese rule, Han Chinese ethnicity immigration, which consists 98% of the Taiwanese population, and general culture unity. So, without a fundamental agreement on nationality, conflicts between both sides are obvious and inevitable, but with disparage attitudes because one side which doesn’t view the other as compatriot would pick up hostility easier to evaluate cross trait relations. Anyway, Taiwanese have freedom of speech, and police should never fight against their legal rights. But despite our different points and unhappy events during Chen Yun-Lin visit, can we, both mainland Chinese and Taiwanese, view each other more objectively beyond political barriers? Can we just discuss our business without considering united or not? Even if we were two countries, isn’t cooperation which aims at maximizing mutual profits the top priority? There’s something we need to abandon and accept: political bias and dual existence.

  • […] Taipei confusing. Bob pointed out that in China, some incidents in the protest were interpreted as democratic violence. Such impression is probably a result of the mainstream media report on the violent scene. You may […]

  • Democracies also don’t tolerate violence, but even more they have to guarantee the people’s right to protest. You cannot just outlaw a whole protest, just because 5% of them are violent. You have to both inhibit violence while protecting the protesters rights at the same time. That’s difficult, but that’s democracy.

  • charlie1111

    It is important to understand that, people on both sides of the strait are Chinese. We are talking about a single Chinese nation. So don’t laugh at the patience of the mainland government. The goal is eventual unification. The great military strategist Sun Tzu (about 400 BC) said, the best way to win a war is without a fight. Over the past 50 years, people on both sides of the strait have been brain washed to hate each other, more so in Taiwan as they have more fear. Now, both sides begin communicating. So the fear factor will go away in the future. But the fear in the DPP ( the thuggish party under the disguise of democracy) only increases with the improvement of situation. They will display their true colors in the near future (violence and low class).

    Brain wash can be a powerful tool. Over the years, the Christians have been brain washed to believe Jews are evil and the killer of Christ. So the genocide of Jews had little sympathy in the west. China is one of the few countries that helped them. Now the people are brain washed to believe Muslim in general are bad. This will produce some tensions, even wars in the future. We should thank the “free press” for the on going brain wash.

    So what if the thuggish DPP party gets their way? They need to know that Sun Tzu has many ways to win a war. As others quoted Chairman Mao: Power comes from the barrel of a gun. If talk doesn’t work, you have to be prepared for the alternative. This is true even for China. So there is nothing wrong to be prepared although it should be the absolute last resort. For now, let’s be patient and let the people have the chance to know each other after years of brain washing.

    The current DPP chairwoman said that, the violence (injured about 150 policemen and many others) last week during their demonstration was committed by thugs and gangsters. I think she is right because many of DPP members are thugs and gangsters. People around the world have been entertained by their fighting on the street and in the legislation Yuan.

  • Doris

    Mr charlie1111, who gave you the authority to say “The goal is eventual unification”? If it’s your personal goal, please state as such. Please do not generalize it and pretend it’s the opinion of the majority. Only the 23 million people in Taiwan have the right to determine their future – THAT IS THE DEMOCRACY WAY AND TAIWAN IS A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY.

    I happened to be in Taiwan last week and eyewitness the crime of a democracy being slowly murdered. Which is a huge loss to the world.

    To all the countries, organizations and associations who consider themselves to be the guardian of the democracy, please help the voice of Taiwan to be heard. Let me give you a few facts that I witnessesed last week. I saw people could be questioned, beaten up and/or arrested by policemen merely doing the folloiwng:
    1) Waving the country flag
    2) Speaking their mind
    3) Walking on the street wearing clothes with the print of “I am Taiwanese” or in green
    4) Playing music in the store
    5) Staying in a paid-for hotel room with different opinion on their mind

    The people in Taiwan are still fighting to maintain its sovereignty and world should not forget about them.

    Thank you. Doris

  • Andrew


    Your logic is simplistic. Ethnicity does not equate to nationality. If if did the Mongolians in Inner Mongolia would form a single Mongolian nation with the Mongolians in the Republic of Mongolia. While the Uyghar in East Turkestan would form a single Turkmen nation with all the other Turkic countries. Anyway 80% of the Taiwanese who where Taiwan before 1949 have Malayo Polynesian blood which sets them apart.

    Anyway the concept of a nation is a very subjective term dependant on the individual. The concept of a nation is bound to a sense of shared struggle and origin. The Taiwanese could be argued have their narrative of national identity in their sense of struggle with foreign oppression which has being heightened with ongoing Chinese aggression. Anyway when exactly was Taiwan under the effective rule of any Chinese dynasty.

  • knights

    Doris, if you so truly believe in democracy, then Charlie1111 has the right to free speech.

    LOL anytime I hear people mentioning free-press brain wash, I automatically think of CNN, Creepy Network News!

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site